Local opinion columnists

Things looking up in Fairfield’s downtown

By From page A8 | March 24, 2014

I often hear the comment, “They need to do something about downtown.” Well just so you know, I’m they. Guess what? You’re they, too.

There are many people quietly working behind the scenes to help improve downtown. The question is, are you? Do you shop downtown? Do you get your hair cut downtown? Do you have lunch downtown? Do you plan your events downtown? Do you attend the theater productions downtown?

Yes, you are they.

Until they (all of us) start patronizing the downtown businesses, there will never be the success we all know could and should happen. Once businesses are successful, other businesses will follow. It only takes a few really great success stories to create real change. We have had some fabulous new businesses open lately so trust us, downtown is worth another look.

Downtown stakeholders are beginning to see signs of improvement. We have several new projects in the works. The pavers in the crosswalks and intersections will all be replaced with stamped concrete. Our Design Committee is working on a decorative lighting project. Our Promotions Committee is producing a historic walking guide. Volunteers can be seen picking up litter, pruning trees, painting over graffiti and pulling weeds.

There are about 250 businesses within the 28-block downtown business district. Professional services, educational, retail, restaurants, personal services, along with nonprofit and government agencies are all located downtown. Many of these businesses are extremely successful and don’t even need to advertise. At the same time, others rely heavily on foot traffic and need a steady stream of new customers to stay afloat.

Last year, 26 new businesses opened in downtown. Six businesses closed during the same time period. That’s a net gain of 20 businesses, resulting in about 41 new jobs. They believe in downtown and are investing in the hopes that others will join them.

The next time you want to meet a friend for lunch, choose one of the 18 restaurants downtown. Or take the family out to enjoy the free special events.

New this year is the All Things Art festival, hosted by Artphit on April 26. The Farmers Market begins May 1 and will run every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. The Independence Day Parade returns on July 4th at 10 a.m. Our beloved Tomato Festival will take place Aug. 16 and 17. The Veterans Day Parade and Commemoration take place each year on Nov. 11.

Finally, this year’s Christmas event will see some exciting new additions. We are working hard to bring an outdoor ice skating rink in for the season. The Christmas tree will be located at the corner of Jefferson and Texas streets at the county lawn. Parkway Community Church has stepped up to help revamp our festivities and we know that the community is going to love the improvements.

So know that “they” are, in fact, doing something about downtown. They are us. Join us in our efforts and show your support. Volunteer opportunities abound and together we can create meaningful change. “We” can all do something about downtown.

Margaret Manzo is executive director of the Fairfield Main Street Association. Reach her at 422-0103 or [email protected]

Margaret Manzo


Discussion | 11 comments

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  • clancyMarch 24, 2014 - 1:24 pm

    I would love to try the vegan restrausnt but I see they only open 11-5 and closed Friday and Saturday. With those hours I will probably never get there to try it. Also I hope there is a stronger police presence than in the past. I don't feel very safe downtown.

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  • Dexter FowlerMarch 24, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    Fairfield downtown is great with a lot of variety. I think the reason a lot of people stay away is that that they do not feel safe.I enjoy eating dinner downtown and have never had any problem but I can understand why people are afraid. Fairfield has a bad reputation as unsafe. I think if people come to the downtown area more they will see how great it really is. The Farmers market is the best. I wish there were more community activities downtown. I think the more people come downtown they will see how great it really is.

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  • Rich GiddensMarch 24, 2014 - 10:00 pm

    Yeah, right---you must believe!

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  • Rick WoodMarch 25, 2014 - 2:57 am

    I live downtown and walk my dog all over the place. I feel safe. I also have been volunteering for years to work on street trees and weed removal. I don't know if anyone notices the results more than I do, but they are there, and maintained trees and no weeds create a more welcoming environment for residents and visitors alike. Litter pick up takes lots of hands to make "light work" of it. So if you want to volunteer, see Margaret, or just start picking up litter on your own. We ALL can make a difference and take pride in the result.

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  • Grumpy GusMarch 25, 2014 - 11:35 am

    I have been to town twice in the past week in the early evening to eat... both times the restaurants were closed... " The pavers in the crosswalks and intersections will all be replaced with stamped concrete." Really... we are tearing out the cool paver designs for 'Stamped Concrete'? - That is the kind of change we can all get behind. It makes me wonder who's brother has a Stamped Concrete company. Seriously -- you want people to come downtown, get the businesses to open at hours and days that make sense to working families, and at least attempt the illusion of safety... Park some of the empty police cars from the Parking lot a block away out on main st...

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  • Downtown FanMarch 25, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    Hey GG, do you want to get involved, like Mr. Wood, or just throw stones? Lot's of people have great idea's, but no implementation strategy...Come on down and help out, The main street association has working committees that need volunteers....

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  • Rick WoodMarch 26, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    Our goal should not be to make our downtown into something it can't practically be, but rather to make it the best it can be, or as I like to say, make it as "classy" as it can be. We can't worry about what property owners do or don't do too much, but we can take care of the public spaces, and that means graffiti eradication and prevention, weed control, litter pick-up, and street tree maintenance. It's interesting how I've seen property owners respond positively once the trees in a neighborhood are no longer pulling it down. There's more effort into doing landscaping and other improvements once the ugly trees are fixed.

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  • ?March 26, 2014 - 8:18 pm

    I think excessive Birdy Doo on the sidewalks is a problem. I think this problem is just offal.

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  • rlw895March 26, 2014 - 9:21 pm

    Not offal, fecal.

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  • ?March 26, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    Well, please excuse my feckless attempt at humor.

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  • rlw895March 27, 2014 - 12:23 am

    Mine too.

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